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Judd Apatow is a Pimp! Our Young Men are the Prostitutes…

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Dear Judd Apatow:

You are an ASSHOLE.

But don’t despair, there’s hope.

Apatow and leslie mann

Apatow and wife Leslie Mann…

I know you think you’ve done amazing things with your Hollywood writing, producing and directing career. And if you were 14 years old, I’d agree wholeheartedly. But you just gotta know, Hollywood box office bucks don’t equal quality. OK?

To be fair, you were the driving force behind a TV show years back called Freaks and Geeks that was truly inspired. Your sensitive take on awkward teenagers coping in a COOL and cruel high school world was heartrendingly beautiful. But you’ve plunged to the depths of depravity in recent years making movies such as Knocked Up, and This is 40, that glorify and promote male infantilism, shallowness and immaturity.

And it’s the misogynism of your characters that really bugs me.

I don’t like it when men put down and/or objectify women as you have your ManBoys Seth Rogen, Jason Segel and Jonah Hill do in much of your stuff. To be fair, I don’t enjoy it either when the tables are turned and women gorge on the weakened entrails of us men.

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The world is full of assholes…YES, EVEN I AM AN ASSHOLE…at least to some (badly misinformed!) people or at least some of the time. (Please don’t overload the comment section of this blog post with agreeing statements on this point, OK?) I guess you could say that about most of us.

To soothe your fractured ego, I should tell you that you’re not alone. Following is a shortlist of those on my current Asshole list:

  • Lance Armstrong
  • John Mayer
  • Madonna
  • Billy Bob Thornton
  • Tiger Woods
  • Chris Brown
  • Charlie Sheen
  • The Lumineers
  • Stephen Harper
  • Kanye West
  • Donald Trump

For all I know, you are a really nice guy Judd, which raises the question:

Do we, should we, separate the abilities and talents from the person him/herself?

I don’t have a good answer here. Using Lance Armstrong as one example, I greatly appreciate the athleticism and drive that he brought to his cycling career. Watching him pedal his way up the stunningly steep slope of Alp d’Huez on his bike was a wonder to behold. With or without the aid of drugs, I believe he is an extraordinary athlete who just happens to be an ass in many ways. Maybe I could say the same about you Judd if I only knew you better.

Today’s cinematic world is full of great inspirational and aspirational moviemakers eg. Steven Spielberg, Nora Ephron(late), Ang Lee, Martin Scorsese, Kathryn Bigelow, Woody Allen, Jane Campion. These people, through their artistic genius and skill, can have us sit in the dark and laugh, cry, and think, often within the same scene. I celebrate their amazing prowess. Judd, you have it too. I can see it slyly peeking out and seeping around corners in some of your movies. It’s a waste of talent, shedding its tears in a dark secluded alleyway.

Our young men are watching your cinematic product and living the life that you project as appealing and good. Only you, Judd Apatow, are benefitting…you see, you’re making a bunch of “prostitutes” out of men and collecting millions of bucks on the sidelines and laughing your head off at all the ManBoys you’re helping to create.

Sure, we shouldn’t just shoot you as the messenger. We all have the ability to make choices. But just like prostitutes who are forced into doing things they don’t want to because they have limited choices, your writing and filming takes full advantage of the weaknesses and frailties of young men. Our young fellas are struggling with a world that has changed dramatically in a short time span and is pulling the rug out from under their feet. They need help moving forward, not in slipping back into the anal recesses of their own wretched flatulence.

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Even Shakespeare plumbed the depths of childlike humour, so at least you have some divine company. “O Romeo, that she were, O that she were an open-arse and thou a popp’rin’pear.” –Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene I.  Shakespeare generally reached down with subtlety, nuance, and craft. Try following his lead, you could find a worse mentor out there.

I don’t normally rant on about things like this. And please let me finish by repeating myself. I think you have some great talents that have been hinted at at times in films like The 40 year Old Virgin and Bridesmaids. You have the neurons and synapses in abundant supply to do great stuff.  There’s a dumptruck load of money in your back account now, so don’t settle for the low bar. More truckloads of films making manure-into-money won’t make your smile any bigger at this point.

You’ve passed 40 now. It’s time to grow up. Don’t confuse inanity with good-natured and harmless boyishness. There is some wisdom and humour in you that can be unleashed in fine fashion.

Make the second half of your career funny, but uplifting and aspirational. Find your internal wise wit. I hold hope in my heart that your best time is coming.

Take off that Pimp’s fedora and fur coat and pull yourself up from the fetid gutters. The finishing cut of real man’s clothes will fit you better than you realize.

Cheering you on from the Cinema Sidelines,

Man on the Fringe

Steve Martin to Judd

Apparently I’m not the only one who writes to you Judd!

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I Sat Beside a Murderer in Tim Hortons…

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You can observe a lot by watching.”

                                                                                               Yogi Berra

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Can you size up a person at a glance? What they do? What their passions are? If they’re married? How many siblings?

I was in Tim Hortons coffee shop (Canada’s answer to coffee/donut heaven) last Sunday.

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I was tilting back my cardboard “Roll Up The Rim” cup, indiscretely doing my best Gene Simmons (KISS) long tongue-licking attempt at the last whisps of latte foam caffeine, when I noticed two mid-50’s age men at the table beside me. They looked uncomfortable within themselves as well as with each other. Their eyes were averted and mostly cast downwards.

2 strangers at tims

I don’t think these were the 2 guys I saw!

Were they twin brothers? … I didn’t think so. They were about the same age, same short, greyish scruffy short beard, same age-worn dull grey parkas.

There was a dominant/subordinate dynamic between the two…one, the more authoritarian-looking, self-assured dude and the other…there was a hangdog sadness and look of resignation, even soullessness in his eyes. An “I don’t have anything to live for anymore” sinking of the shoulders. It begins to dawn on me…

….well, I’m almost certain … he’s a paroled killer.

I’ve been looking at these guys for less than a minute and I’ve already decided that one is a murderer.

And the storyline grows and deepens: He killed his wife while drunken or drugged and has spent the last 20 years regretting the hurt he’s caused. His own two kids hate him and won’t see him. He’s been released from the penitentiary because he was a model, non-violent inmate who made one unfortunate, huge, life-altering mistake.

And now, here he sits at Tim Hortons for his weekly check-in with his parole officer.

DAMN…I do this all the time!

I see people on the street or in a store and within seconds I think I know their life story.

We may not be aware of it, but we’re all unpublished (well, most of us anyways) authors walking the streets writing stories inside our heads about the world around us. We look at strangers and based on the clothes they’re wearing, the jewelry on their fingers, the shoes on their feet, their posture, the lines on their face, the makeup worn – we immediately become fiction writers and make up a story in our heads.

I’ve watched enough detective TV shows in my life to know that we observe and record information all the time. It’s math and art combined.

To understand someone’s formula takes time. Over years, we gather a reservoir of general behavioral and physical archetypes and then store it in the back of our mind. Patterns begin to form in our head that tell us a collection of things about others.

archetypes21

And much of our world, we learn, is predictable. Pilots and cops and McDonalds workers and WalMart greeters wear their specific uniforms: bankers and brokers and realtors wear stylish higher end fashion: a heavily lined or wrinkled face suggests a difficult life filled with worry: a certain tone of voice suggests deceitfulness or acceptance.

Remember those kids’ books in school where you add one layer of transparency after another to a male or female figure. As each layer is placed on top of another, a picture emerges of who and what this person is and does. There are multiple clues that we display to the world that tell others who we are. By rights, I should wear a dunce cap, but why would I make it easy for others. You’d better work hard if you’re going to figure out MY life story in a glance!

Every day I see or meet new people and within seconds I have a running dialogue … “She must be a single Mom with young kids in hockey because she’s wearing slightly worn casual clothes with a team insignia on the left shoulder and no wedding ring and just a touch of makeup. Her hair is clean but not highly styled . The shoes are runners, likely from Winners, that are semi-stylish but inexpensive. She does a bit of dabbling in online dating but nothing seems to click from either her side or theirs.

Just another Hockey Mom...

Just another Hockey Mom??

By taking on a Walter Mitty persona, we can leave our own world and experience the dramas unfolding around us.

Just like me, have you ever sat in a restaurant and when your own conversations reach a lull, take in the dialogue at a nearby table? Tuned your ears to the couple looking in angry, hurtful glances at each other? There are lives being lived and played out in glory and pain within a few feet of our inquisitive attentiveness. Who needs CIA listening devices when in the real world, people are more than happy to share the sordid details of the reality-based chess game that is going on? When our own lives become boring or banal, we can vicariously inhabit someone else’s, even if for just a few minutes.

The reality is that there are stories and adventures and heartache and joy being acted out on the stage of real life. We all have something to cry about. No matter how wonderful or accomplished we are, there is always something down deep that resembles sorrow or sadness. And we’ve all had great moments of accomplishment and euphoria. I can see and intuit it in the multiple layers of the transparencies that make up those I see munching their apple fritters.

When I go into my Tim Hortons coffee shop, I’m seeking out more than a caffeine or sugar fix…although I admit those are perfectly good and adequate reasons on those days when my energy levels are low. The BONUS? You never know what macabre stories will unfold in the innocence of java joint encounters.

It’s like the escapism of the movie theatre.

And the price of admission to this theatre?

One good steaming cup of coffee…

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PS: Today’s great Tim Hortons’ life lesson!

     Any cupcake consumed before 9 AM is, technically, a muffin.”

Brian P. Cleary

Half A Man In Gym Class?

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My legs were screaming at me to stop. But the finish line was tantalizingly close, so I ignored them – as best I could manage when it feels like there’s a newly-graduated surgeon extracting a bullet from your quadriceps – and pretended I was a swift Kenyan runner.

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“My” group of Half Marathoners…me in red, my daughter Emma in blue…

I enjoyed a run through the park with 25,000 others a week or so back … Stanley Park in Vancouver, as a matter of fact.

The mass of multi-colour clad, multi-aged runners combined in a tidal blur of sun, sweat, and spectacular vistas of the snow-capped mountains on the north shores of Burrard Inlet. With the bright sunshine warmly carpeting our pathway, a prettier running location would be hard to find in this world.

It was a half marathon run, part of the Vancouver International Marathon held each May.

Distance running like this is not something I was naturally born to. I’m no Wayne Gretzky, who, I’m pretty sure sliced and diced his Mom’s hoo-ha figure-eight style on the way out at birth with his sharpened ice skates. HE was a natural.

I’ve been a slowly smoldering work-in-progress, one New Balance running shoe step in front of the other to where I stand today as a middle-aged middlin’ runner.

Pet Peeve time: Calling the race a “half marathon” inflames the ire in me because it makes me feel like I could only bother to run half the REAL race. The medal hung over my neck at the end declares, “RAN HALF“.

It’s like they’re snickering and cruelly announcing to me and the world … “real athletes run a full marathon, but YOU could only run HALF a marathon. Lazy Slob!”

Don’t worry… I’ll get over it.

All of this is really just an introduction to telling you that I didn’t like gym class in high school.

It was populated by jock types and smart-ass morons and squat, juiced-up gym teachers with bulky brawn, shrunken testicles, and even further diminished brains. The gym corner office was full of male and female Sue Sylvester wannabes. It didn’t make me feel “GLEE”-ful.

Gym teacher

To be fair, some things were OK, but most of the time my gym experience was being squeezed like a stress ball wearing regulation blue gym shorts. The atmosphere was suffused with wrestling room acidic-scented body odour and unattainable rope climbs and gymnastics pretzels. My life flashed before my eyes a dozen times while attempting to do the mandatory spread-legged vault over the pommel horse.

In my gym classes, participation wasn’t the desired outcome. It was either total mastery of death-defying contests or utter, adolescent, esteem-crushing failure. The good-looking popular girls in their cute boy-melting mini-skirts knew within minutes if you failed to jimmy up the rope to the gym ceiling. Who needed Facebook or Twitter?

Somehow, I scraped through with only semi-crippling psychological damage.

And now, fast forward to today’s gym world.

Fitness-Club

The modern-day commercial gym is an amusement park wonder to gawk at.

There are machines with handles and barbells sticking out in various directions, all laid out in beautiful straight lines. Bright spotlights peer down from above onto stationary bikes, and rowers, and treadmills, and ellipticals, and all manner of thingamabobs with names that only Dr. Seuss could have contrived.

Huge numbers of average folks throng to these high-tech halls of power and fitness to make themselves more beautiful and buff and just plain healthy. It’s good to see but I’m mightily confused – as I am by so many things in my life. Let me explain.

The guys and gals pour through the doors, and plunk down their hard-earned membership dollars. Then, like in the old smoky-hazed drinking parlours from a hundred years ago, the men and the women disperse in opposing directions.

Men drift off towards the big heavy lifting machines and barbell racks where bench presses and monster leg squats await tantalizingly like BBQ’d steaks and beer on a hot summer day. The 350 lb. “grunt” lifts soon begin and the muscles bulge and ripple. This is the “BRO ZONE”.

Meanwhile, women amble towards the organized group classes of TRXBOSU, Kick Boxing, PilatesSpinBoot Camp, Yoga and…well, you get my drift. Lululemon butt-hugging apparel bursts out all around like an untended field of pretty dandelions, music volumes crank up and movement begins. There is hard work to be done and sweat to be shed. One of the best things resulting from these classes is a killer “aerobic” workout that pushes the heart and lungs way beyond the comfort zone.

Now, maybe it’s just the gyms that I go to, or the small’ish city  where I live in British Columbia, Canada, but in most of the group classes that I stop in to participate, I’m the ONLY guy. It’s a lonely world for those of us with a Y chromosome.

yoga ine guy

…alone again…naturally…

WHY??

Why do my male brethren avoid the group workout in a room filled with the fairer sex?

  • Too much talk? Who can talk with a heart beating hard enough to be heard across town?
  • Not enough muscle aggrandizing work? Guys…there is no lack of muscle building activity in a TRX or Boot Camp class, believe me!
  • Music too distracting?  Maybe, but it helps to take the mind off the pain and make time zip by faster.
  • Female Intimidation? Are the men coming to the gym fearful of what women might think of them if they can’t keep up in a class setting? Are the “ball-busters” just too much for the male ego to handle?

I wish I knew the answer to my own questions.

Today’s world is taxing enough for a man who is trying to understand how the double X chromosome sex thinks. But then to run into a wall of confusion regarding his own gender-kind seems perversely mean-spirited.

Have I been somehow cluelessly parachuted inside a Twilight Zone world where I’m straddling a gender fence surrounded by a dark, murky haze?

Maybe hanging out with my BRO’s will clear the confusion in my head and remedy the lingering pain in my HALF MARATHON legs.

I’m heading off to the gym to think about this.

kid planking

Way to go BRO!

Cafeteria Lunches at Glendale High…Improving Our World with French Fries

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Glendale Secondary2

Hands down, the school cafeteria was my favourite place at Glendale High School, just ahead of the Band Room and WAY ahead of the sour sweat-stinky gymnasium.

After the 4th or 5th period of classes, I’d go to my locker and grab the brown paper bag lunch my Mom had made me and head to the cafeteria with Jerome, Renato or Frank (my Ukrainian, Italian, and Hungarian friends) or whichever of my friends was in my last class before lunch.

Passing through the grey-metal, glass-windowed cafeteria door was like entering a whole different world. All thoughts of books or homework assignments dissipated when I was first hit with the heady scent of french fries and gravy wafting through the air, aggressively pushing back at the school hallway’s scent of Dustbane.

There were plenty of calories in our lunch bags to get us through the school day: sandwich, homemade chocolate-chip cookies, muffin, apple. Still, we rushed to the front of the cafeteria and took our place in the line leading up to Mrs. Jack standing behind the serving counter in her blue cotton front-zippered shift. She lived up to her Scottish stereotype by dishing up meagre servings of hotly fragrant french fries into white cardboard boat containers like you get at the beach in summer. We’d always smile sweetly at her – even though we didn’t really like her – and beg her to add more of the crisp, golden potato delicacies to our boat and then go fill whatever gaps existed between the fries with great squirts of ketchup, or nose-pungent vinegar, then sit at the long lines of parallel tables beside other kids.

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Just a few more, OK Mrs. Jack???

In my blue-collar “lunch-bucket” Hamilton hometown high school, the tables were filled with Slavic kids with garlic-smelly meat sandwiches. Or Italian boys with names that always ended with the letter “O”…Mario, Angelo, Ezio, Vito.

We’d talk about important things like Mr. Mason’s little coloured peg “rewards” for correct answers in French class or Carole J.’s amazing breasts. Talking about them was the closest I was ever going to get to those babies.

Didn’t everyone go to a Glendale High School …

where cafeterias were staffed by middle-aged Mrs. Jack’s, where the echoing din of voices of hundreds of hormonal teenagers gathered to gab and gossip? And to munch on the chocolate- or caramel-chemical cake sensations Jos. Louis or Ah Caramel?

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Probably not… but for a long time I thought they did.

  • I thought that everyone lived just like me in my insignificant east-end “Steel City” home.
  • I thought the whole world was the same as what I could see out my window.
  • I thought that sticky, hot, humid summers and wet, slushy winters were everywhere and all-the-time.

I entered the world naked and clueless, not knowing anything other than what I was surrounded by.

And then one day I accidently stumbled and fell through the looking glass and found a whole new, shiny world that had only existed for me in fancy fiction books, glossy magazines, and newspapers. Like the change of black and white to rainbow-hued Technicolor in The Wizard of Oz.

And not just one new world but a whole big gamut of new worlds and new people and new experiences.

And there would be no going back. No Larry, you can never go home again.

At the age of 20, I finished my medical lab certification at local Mohawk College and then, almost on a whim, went north to spend just a few months in the Canadian arctic before I would return forever to the warm, comfortable womb of my childhood years.

But instead of returning home, I went to Europe and backpacked my way across and around that continent. I married a great lady from British Columbia and went to live in her beautiful mountainous homeland. Later on I ventured to South America and spent time with Incan ancestors in the Andes for a few months. I travelled to China and drank snake wine. I voyaged on boats around warm southern islands. I ate cod cheeks and tongues and bakeapples in Newfoundland.

Arctic Larry

Two + years in the arctic changed my icy heart…

I was changed. I was new. I was improved.

The look out my home’s window wasn’t a whole lot different, but my outlook on the world was transformed.

We’re all going to be dead in 100 years. Everything and everyone we know will be gone, and we’ll just be an eighth note in the symphony of existence. I want my eighth note to be memorable, because I was given this time through the lottery of life. There won’t be a second coming for this non-Buddhist.

We live our lives with expectations and a belief in things moving forward as they have in the past. If I hadn’t left my home city when I finished college, I wouldn’t have changed and I would have lived a lesser life. Not a bad or worthless life, but totally different and less rich with experiences.

One of the life lessons I’m FINALLY coming to realize through my running is that we can’t keep doing the same things and expecting the outcome to change. If I don’t change my training habits, I’ll likely not improve my running results … if I live my life the same way I always have or as others tell me I should, then the results too will be the same. Expanded experiences develop my tolerance muscles.

I’m frightened by change. I get palpitations when confronted by new challenges or experiences. But I’m excited by it too.

We can spend our entire lives in our own backyards. It’s easy to do. Historically, a major reason why we’ve had wars and racism and intolerance and why different countries and different religions fight against each other and amongst themselves is that we’ve never left our own sandbox and climbed into someone else’s. There’s usually a good reason why they like brown sand and I like white sand, but I’ll never know the reason until I sit down and make a sandcastle out of brown sand.

I’d love to go back and have Mrs. Jack serve me up some hot, salty french fries in the cafeteria of Glendale High School. It would be great to sit and be kids again with all of my old multi-ethnic friends.

But what’s really cool is that I’ve discovered that I can pass through cafeteria doors anywhere in the world and love the french fries wherever I go, and I kind of like where the salty winds have carried me so far.

korea-french-fry-party

Now this is MY idea of a french fry feed…

Welcome to #50!

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Just yesterday I was 16 years old and driving my barely-running 1967 brown Rambler American to flip burgers at McDonalds in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Today I woke up in my barely-running 1957 body in Summerland, B.C., Canada.

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1967 Rambler American

Mine was the 4-door model on the bottom, picture it in brown…

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And yesterday, I wrote my first blog post about Women and Menopause. Today, this is blog post #50 for me. Yep, it’s true.

So on this day, a few disconnected, rambling, maybe incoherent thoughts as I hear Paul Simon singing to me… Still Crazy After All These Years?

Men are STILL from Mars and Women are STILL from Venus

Last June I started sharing my perspectives on many areas but primarily focussed on the lively and mysterious dance that occurs between women and men. All from THIS middle-aged crazy man’s biased and personal perspective. I’ve tried to be as honest and freewheeling as I can be without bruising anyone.

We all have thoughts that have the potential to hurt others. I want to be as open as my book can be while steering clear of saying something that might wound any one individual. I want to tell you that the Emperor (even if the Emperor happens to be me) isn’t wearing clothes, but I don’t want to tell you that YOU’RE not wearing clothes…get my point?

We’re all bobbing icebergs in life’s ocean swells who only show a portion of ourselves to the outer world. We want to be unique and individual while still knowing that we’re not alone or weird. There’s comfort when we realize that others bleed and cry and have fears and dreams, especially when those parts of ourselves aren’t publicly shared because we fear the opinions of others.

Despite what has been declared in recent press and research, I firmly camp myself in the belief that men and women have some very fundamental differences. Much of what distinguishes and attracts men to women and women to men are the opposing poles of personality, outlook, approach to life, and belief.

It’s not just what lies buried behind our Levi’s zippers that makes us different.

These differences can elicit huge issues of anger and resentment, as well as harmony and contentment. But it’s also what draws us together.

There is deep-rooted appeal of men for women and vice versa…no matter how many of our friends and relatives we discover to be attracted to the same gender, gayness/gayosity/gayificness isn’t going to ever dominate our world as the relationship of the majority.

It’s the oppositeness of the other gender that appeals for most…I like the fact that women are more communicative and expressive, I like that women are more sensitive and empathetic, I especially like it that women smell better than men. I don’t understand a lot of things about women… hell, this may actually be the meaning of MY life in a nutshell.

Women smell better

Things I’ve learned from writing these 50 blogs:

  • Creative ideas eg. music, writing, drawing – thrive in silence and solitude. Too much activity and background noise = stunted subconscious thought. A mind constantly bombarded by input doesn’t have the space to draw its own extraordinary net of ideas.
  • Sleep helps lots. Idea sex happens best in bed just like the other kind of sex (although some may argue this last point!). That old subconscious plods through the murk and muddied confusion and finds clarity and union of the seemingly jumbled while we slumber.

Idea sex?

  • Ideas and creativity don’t just happen by hoping and wishing. I have to sit down and make it happen, preferably at my personal daily peak-energy time (for me, early morning), regardless of my energy levels or feelings of inspiration. Sometimes, it flows smoothly and rich like hot, espresso coffee, and other times drips bit by painful bit like refrigerated Heinz ketchup. No matter, eventually a trickle happens, but only if I stay at it.
  • Live like everyday is MY last? …This doesn’t quite work to keep me inspired. I prefer to want to live as if everyone I know and meet were going to die that day. Would I speak badly of them? Would my eyes go glassy when they tell me about their concerns or joys? I feel warmer towards my fellow travellers if I think they’ll be cold and 6 feet under tomorrow.

Further…I LOVE to Learn

  • There is an amazing website called COURSERA that offers tons of online courses from 33 universities around the world. TOTALLY FREE! Right now, I’m studying Songwriting from Berklee College of Music in Boston. Technology has brought education into our homes from across the globe. Prepare to be inundated by bad songs I’ll be uploading to YouTube any day now!
  • I’ve loved languages since forever. Now that I’m older with fewer day-to-day responsibilities, I’m able to pursue my passions. My wife and I have travelled to Cusco, Peru…Havana, Cuba… and Barcelona, Spain, to spend time in classrooms learning Spanish. Connecting with people from a bunch of countries while absorbing the local Spanish culture has been an experiencia fantastica. You haven’t lived until you’ve had a drink of fluorescent yellow Inca Kola while eating guinea pig in Cusco!

Inca Kola

  • My Martin DX1AE guitar is one of my best friends. Playing music has been my comfort-blanket for years and years. Various internet websites and YouTube have given me the means to learn techniques and styles of playing that I could only have dreamed of 20 years ago. My favourite site right now? James Taylor guitar lessons. He even tells me how to give myself Fake Nails for picking…now there’s value!
  • Money may not buy happiness, but I sure don’t think any of us has to live in squalor to feel fulfilled. I haven’t earned an investment banker livelihood from my career. But thanks to great investing mentors like Peter Lynch and Warren Buffett, I’ve been able to live a notch or two higher than I might otherwise. A lifetime of great investment advice can be had in the annual letters at 85 year old Warren Buffett’s company website, Berkshire Hathaway. Get entertained and educated by the greatest investor of the past 100 years…once again, it’s totally free.

I’m so lucky to live this life in this time.

I have enough free time not having to kill my dinner  (or my neighbour!) that I can sit and write a blog.

Human history is a chuckwagon overloaded to the ground with violence and poverty and disease. I live in a world where sort-of-average people can concentrate their efforts on lip-swelling enhancements, butt lifts, and tooth veneers as well as Gucci handbags and truffle oil and champagne. Signs of the coming apocalypse?…well, that remains to be seen. No guarantees are on offer here!

So, thanks for joining me in the first 50 blog posts. And thank you for your messages and e-mails that encourage me far too much.

I’m aiming for 100, and that may be years and not a blog count.

I’m a work-in-progress…but aren’t we all?…

50th cake

Have You Had a BM Today?

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No, it’s not what you’re thinking.

But do you think you’d read this if I entitled the post, “How Do you Handle All the Information Coming At You?” BORING!

You, like me, are flailing in a floodstorm of information that swirls and sucks us in and down. Every time we come to the surface to catch our breath, another huge wave of data crashes over our heads and pushes downwards like the Ocean Ranger in the cold Atlantic. Blogs like this, Work Stuff, Newspapers, E-mails, Facebook, E-zines, Huffington Posts, Flipboards, Tumblr, Pinterest…wave after wave.

So here I am sending you more information (opinion) about information…don’t shoot me yet!

Overwhelmed-Woman1

My alimentary canal has a way of dealing with excess overload….I jam food in one end, chew it up, swallow, squeeze and peristalsize it through my amazing internal composting system. Then it exits from the other end after my body has digested and sucked out all of the good – and not so good – stuff it needs.

The end result is a Bowel Movement. Nutrients In, Garbage Out (NIGO). It’s as cool as it is remarkable.

I want a brain that can do the same thing.

I can’t keep up with the enormous flow of conversations, images, facts, figures and opinion coming at me from right, left, above and below ground. There’s a runaway firehose spewing and swelling with megabytes of information gushing at my gaping eyes and I’m blown over by the pressure.

fire hydrant

And yet strangely, I like all of this information.

There’s something gratifyingly pleasing about being able to know just about anything imaginable in a Google Heartbeat. It makes my world a richer, more engaging place.

  I feel…as though the physical stuff of my brain were expanding, larger and larger, throbbing quicker and quicker with new blood – and there is no more delicious sensation than this.”

Virginia Woolf

As amazing as the digestive tract is, the brain is even MORE awe-inspiring … but perplexing. Information flows in, I crunch and masticate and try to absorb the important nutrients of information. This is where the intestines and the brain diverge somewhat.

Once the information enters my system, I want my brain to distinguish the juicy, salient info-nutrients from the trite. After extracting and storing all of the good stuff for future and easily accessible use, it should dump the useless and undigestible and trivial.

A couple of small examples of the volume of material that I’m talking about:

  • This blog I write is on a website called WORDPRESS. As of today, there are 62 million individual blogsites on their servers. Each day, 100,000 brand new blogs are initiated, and each month 39 million new blog posts are published.
  • In the New York Times recently, linguist Geoffrey Nunberg claims, “… that a copy of the daily New York Times contains more information than the average 17th-century Englishman encountered in a lifetime”. This may be a stretch, but it makes a point.

Information overload, Information glut, Information fatigue.

Just like a Bowel Movement … I want a Brain Movement (yes, the other BM!). Information In, Garbage Out (IIGO)

The brain is still a puzzle to us in many ways. In a hundred years, our great-grandchildren will be rolling on the floor laughing at our rudimentary knowledge and understanding of this pound of pug-looking, crinkly tissue. I can see them chortling derisively at this world you and I know.

I get frustrated when I can’t remember details that I swore to myself I would never lose. I can win a game of Trivial Pursuit because I’ll remember minute, bizarre, unimportant facts. Memory is a wonderful and frustrating piece of work. It gives us so much, and sadly still, leaves us so little in terms of a lifetime of people, impressions and moments. The voices of dead relatives, the uncomfortable moments in high school, the night we lost our virginity, the time of our greatest triumph, a heartbreak, a joy. Some memories live on, and so many are lost.

We know we can only capture and retain so much so we draw… and we write…. and we take photographs. Jim Croce sings, Photographs and Memories … “Christmas cards you sent to me, all that I have are these to remember you”. If only my brain could absorb and keep all the good stuff like my small intestine does and poop out the bad.

Yes, there are things we can do to improve our chances of maintaining the crucial, but it’s still just a fraction of what I would like.

In Ancient Greece there was a girl who was in love with a boy. But he had to leave, so the story goes that on their last night together the girl brought a lamp and set it so it threw her lover’s shadow on the wall. She traced the outline of his shadow so she would never forget what he looked like. The next day, the boy was gone, but that outline was still there. A memory captured.

There’s the old expression about “getting your head out of your ass”. Perhaps this is just where our heads should be…like a good bowel, learning to keep the good and jettisoning the superfluous.

My Brain is Full

Are we at risk of using up our mental space? Or, will our brain’s elasticity stretch even bigger to accommodate the crashing waves of information.

So, what do you think? Too much information? Can we keep up?  Should we even try to keep up? What is the information age REALLY doing for us … to us?

We desperately desire to retain our mental faculties and memory. Yet, in the end, we will, each of us, lie in our death bed with all of our thoughts and memories crammed into our dessicating cranium like sawdust scattered on the workroom floor. Just waiting to blow away in the next gust of the eternal breeze.

The vestiges of a story of a life.

Harry Chapin